I stopped watching American Idol religiously a few years ago, sometime during season 7, my interest tapered off. They advertised that season like it was something brand spanking new in Idol history; they ran ads stating how youthful, attractive, and exciting the top contestants were. At first, this year seemed promising—the Davids (of the Cook and Archuleta variety) repeatedly blew us away. Jason Castro enchanted us with his guitar, ukulele, and dreadlocks. Brooke White seemed so promising as a pianist, until that terribly awkward moment where she had to re-start her song, which has never happened before on Idol. Eventually, the sparkle of the group wore of, and more often than not, the show was lackluster or largely disappointing.
After season 7, I still tuned in occasionally, mainly for the first few rounds of the auditions when drama is running rampant on the screen. Part of the reason I was getting so fed up with Idol after the preliminary rounds was because of the frustrating structure of the show. The produces felt they had to have the top 10/12 contain the same number of guys and girls in the beginning. This meant that if they had a ton of great guys and a ton of mediocre girls, mediocre girls would still get through over those awesome guys just because of the show’s format.
I was also growing weary of contestants bringing their own instruments into the mix. Initially, this allowance to let the contestants shine with their instrumental skills as well as their vocal skills was exciting and impressive, but it became too much. I missed the days where the contestants had to impress me with their vocals, with just a microphone in front of them, and maybe some dance moves if they were so inclined (I’m looking at you, Carrie Underwood, with your weird, uncomfortable attempts at dancing during your time on Idol. Yeah, don’t think I forgot about that.)
So color me pleased when I read Entertainment Weekly‘s interview with this year’s judges, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson, and host, Ryan Seacrest and discovered that there were some changes in the works for this season, mostly thanks to executive producer Ken Warwick.
Warwick, apparently, has the same qualms I did with the show. EW reports that Warwick is getting rid of “gender parity” in favor of letting talent be the deciding factor. Wow, what a concept. I’m just surprised it took this long for someone to fix this.
Warwick’s quote in the article regarding contestants and their instruments positively delighted me, “The one thing that irritated me [last season] was that so many of the kids played guitars. Every one of them wanted to plunk away at it. ‘Oh, great, it’s Rock Week!’ Plunk-a plunk-a plunk-a.‘ Oh, it’s country!’ plunk-a plunk-a plunk-a. It became tedious and boring.” Oh, Warwick, I could not agree more with your impression or your conclusion. Those damn plunk-a plunk-a’s were enough to drive any fan of the show (re: me) insane with fury.
In addition to these welcome changes, I also think Steven Tyler is going to be our new Paula Abdul, that is, Champion of Crazy. I mean, in his interview alone you could pick out a ton of crack-gems that would make former champ Abdul proud. EW innocently wonders if Lopez or Tyler will sing on the show. Seacrest in turn asks Lopez and Tyler, “You’re in talks?”
Tyler replies, “Urine talks? Are you talking about pee-pee again? Urine talks, I like that. So Life’s a pisser.” My favorite part is that this implies that Ryan Seacrest frequently engages in talks about pee with Steven Tyler. I pray these talks become a part of the show the way Simon and Ryan’s banter used to be.
I guess maybe I’ll give this season a whirl. SNL goes through ups and downs, and it’s taught me to keep the faith with other monster shows like Idol. But Damn. A decade of Idol. I still remember when Kelly Clarkson won all those fateful years ago.